Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dear Greg Hampikian

The original title for this post was going to be: "When May I Shoot My Unlettered Biology Professor?" (clips feed magazines; magazines feed firearms, not the other way around; shooting someone to stop a deadly assault isn't, as his article implies, actually a punishment; being dismissed for cheating, however, is) with the runner-up candidate title being, "Why The Biology Professor Should Bother Sitting In A Physics Class From Time To Time" (he thinks that firearms have some innate velocity different from, say, a pen or pencil in a bag; he fails to demonstrate an understanding of ammunition: hollow points expand upon entry, thus increasing their surface area and thus reducing their penetration profile; this in turn works mischief to the goal of hitting vital structures located deep within the body - one reason, among others, that better than 6 out of 7 shooting victims survive the ordeal). These were wordy and no doubt awkward for a feed reader; thus, the cordial title you see above.

The individual mentioned above has written an article appearing in the New York Times regarding a recent legislative move taken in one house of the bicameral Idaho legislature which will, if passed and signed into law, permit concealed carry on the campuses of Idaho's tertiary schools. To this professor of both biology and criminal justice, it would seem that if there exists a law which makes the doing of a thing permissible, it thereby follows from the existence of such a law that the law is an advertisement for the doing of that thing. Now, I know many of you are thinking that sounds absurd, for I thought it so at first blush too. Upon a moment's reflection, however, I must now confess my approval of his schema.

As a professor of criminal justice, I am sure the good doctor is aware of and concerned about youths and alcohol consumption, for as he sarcastically repines, "The problem, of course, is not that drunken frat boys will be armed; it is that they are drunken frat boys." This is a problem that is, one can readily see, easily traced to the encouragement of legislatures throughout the nation. Indeed, this is a rampant problem in the United States: 45 states in the Union unashamedly have been for years positively encouraging underage men and women, boys and girls to get drunk. What is worse, one should think, is that these states have been pressuring these children's parents to foist upon their children these evil libations. The curious reader will by now have in his mind a lingering question about what it is that I mean.

In all but 5 states, there are explicit laws which permit underage children (and adults, but that's another topic for another time) to drink at home (and depending on the state, in other approved locations) with parental consent. A note from dear old mom is all it takes to tie one on. Clearly, these legislatures have been paying mere lip service to the notion of wanting to abate the problem of youthful, alcohol-induced exuberance by on the one hand writing laws imposing stiff criminal penalties for those who procure for, collude to procure for, or sell to children alcoholic beverages while, on the other hand, encouraging parents to encourage their very own charges to eat, drink and be merry. Once again elected representatives have the professor's feet in both sides of their mouths by way of coveting the votes of both the prohibitionists and their rival bootlegging parents, two groups who it might seem difficult for one elected body to simultaneously woo, and on the same subject! Quelle surprise.

I am uncertain for what purpose the professor adverts to the university's "Shared-Values Statement"; does the professor operate under the delusion that students' legal rights can be abrogated by such a document? To the extent that I'm aware of how the law operates, my rights are neither enhanced nor diminished by the existence of such a nice-sounding but empty assertion that the school attempts to provide a safe feeling environment. I wonder how effective a bulwark against being raped invocation of that policy statement was in this case. Perhaps, but for the apotropaic incantation of that policy, this woman's rape ordeal would have been immeasurably worse. There's a curious artifact of that event which shouldn't go unmentioned: the men dispatched to have a come-to-Jesus talk with her rapist were all armed. No doubt that was a fluke.

Now, of course, one should note that more than half of the states permit concealed carry on college campuses. Idaho is among the 29 states that do authorize it, but each college has heretofore been able to set its own policy. That's true in a lot of states too. A quick reading of campus shootings shows that the shootings which have occurred on college campuses have only happened in either (a) states that ban carrying on campus or (b) in states in which conceal carry is authorized subject to the decision of the school administrators, who have in turn elected to prohibit concealed carry on campus.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pst, Al Franken....

Hey, Al:

     So, I was milling around on the internet when I happened upon a recent senate hearing discussing what is ostensibly some kind of response to 'gun violence'. Several times during the hearing, you made reference to the absence of even a single instance in which an AR-15 has been used for self defense. Not a single example to be found you proclaimed a few times. You've been asked to imagine hypotheticals though, which you seem not to be satisfied with. Allow me to assist you, Al.

All I can really say, Al, is that as a comedian you were able to pull off better research on Ann Coulter than it seems you and your entire staff, having at its disposal the full resources of the United States Congress (aren't you a member of the more reflective chamber?), could manage.  I thought about actually digging into some police reports, but then I figured I'd spot you one by just restricting myself to Youtube. Now, my guess is that it happens often enough that I'll be able to find a video on Youtube in, well, under 15 seconds. Now, I know you're really enthusiastic about this legislation, for the children of course. It's always about the children. So, I'll just use some keywords from the, ahem, anti-AR-15 homily to which the C-SPAN audience was, um, entreated?

Anyway, I'll just type in "AR-15 defense children" and see what comes up.

Hot damn! Research is hard these days!

All of that time you claim to have spent reading the previous record and thinking hard about this subject and you couldn't find a single example. I think you're totally slow-playing that Harvard education, Al. Or have you spent too much time around Ann Coulter?

(oh, for everyone else, do be sure to send this to Al Franken. And never let it be said that I never gave Al anything. Oh, who am I kidding? I seriously doubt even if he sees this he'll drop the 'I haven't seen a single example' line.)

On a serious note:

Al, the reason you don't find the examples in the 'record' is one of those whole seek and ye shall find kind of jobbies. If you really wanted to find it, it would be a trivial moment's effort to find what you imply is so obscure as to not yet have been read into the 'record'. You're a senator in the United States of America. If you wanted an example, open your mouth to one of your assistants and I'm sure they can find you as many as you'd like. It's on youtube.

I can only surmise the reason you've managed not to find an example is because you've done the very hard work of neither asking nor looking.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

May It Please the Court

Dear Judge Lori B. Jackson:

     If it please the court, your honor, I should like to take a moment of the court's time to discuss an issue involving your honor's incompetence, if it's all the same to you. You see, judge, you are at present the jurist presiding over a divorce case involving one Mr. James Kirk, and one Mrs. Tina Kirk who, as your honor will know, have two minor children. As you will also know in regards this case, the court has been presented with a guardian ad litem report (hereinafter 'the report') recommending that said minor children, whose names I shall not mention, should be placed in the care of their father rather than their mother as a consequence of their mother's ill-controlled alcoholism and general mental illness. Also present in the report is a documented history of abusive conduct on the part of the mother as directed towards these minor children.

     These reports are fairly common in your line of work, and would in the course of a normal case not rise to level of being remarkable beyond the parties directly involved (i.e., yourself, the parents, their lawyers, and various government officials otherwise bound up in dealing with this particular case); however, the instant case has a few peculiarities which attendance has drawn my attention. I, of course, refer to your decision to place the minor children in the custody of their mentally ill, abusive and alcoholic mother rather than their father, and in disregard of the report indicating that the mother is unsuited at present to properly care for the children in addition to her being abusive against them. Further compounding matters is the fact that the publicly available report has found its way to a website whereat a copy, which redacts the name of the children, has been posted to bring to the attention of the public-at-large your decision.

     The guardian ad litem has filed an injunction request with the court to enjoin both Mr. Kirk and avoiceformen from posting said report, and to order the latter to remove from its website the redacted copy of the public report because the report, it is alleged, does not serve the best interests of the children. Presumably, if the best interests of the children are served by your placing these children in the care of a drunken, mentally ill parent who has a documented history of abusing her children, then people discussing the fact that you have put these children at physical risk of being harmed must serve their best interests, for stopping someone from being, oh, say, beaten is an issue more pressing than someone discussing the fact that someone has been beaten, and you clearly have ruled that being beaten is in a child's best interest.

     As noted in the guardian ad litem's motion now pending before the court notes, said motion was served on the attorney of record who is representing Mr. Kirk in the case now before your court. In an order for a hearing on this motion which you had entered into the record on September 28, I can't help but notice that Mr. Kirk's attorney's name appears on page two just above your signature. I also cannot help but to notice that you have dutifully lined through the attorney's name and appended to page one of this order a handwritten note which you've initialed indicating that the order should be served on Mr. Kirk directly for he is, on your telling, not represented by an attorney. What is more is that I cannot find (a), a note indicating that his attorney no longer represents him, or (b) that Mr. Kirk has informed the court that he wishes to proceed without an attorney.

     And as a peculiar aside to all of this, judge, I notice that I am not subject to the jurisdiction of your court, and even if I were, I am not a named party in the motion, so your order enjoining any of the named parties from publishing this document wouldn't apply to me in any event. Thus, in an effort to educate you in the ways of the internet; viz., the Streisand Effect, should you actually sign an order enjoining said parties from hosting or publishing this document, I shall immediately upload said document and host said document for the public, as their interest might dictate, might view it at their convenience. During the intervening period of time, I shall only link to it on the avoiceformen website.

Best Regards,
Somewhere Your Writ Won't Run